Tourists are paying people to take pictures of them around Toronto
Would you shell out $85 an hour for someone to show you a city's most-Instagrammable backdrops and take hundreds of potential profile pictures in the process? Because a lot of people will — and do.
Like hotel brands, tour companies are starting to face some stiff competition from side-hustling individuals thanks to none other than Airbnb.
That's right — you don't need a property to make bank on the flourishing short-term vacation rental market. You do, however, need to come up with an experience people will pay for.
It's already been established that people will part with ludicrous amounts of money, time and self-respect to produce enviable content for the 'gram.
Earlier this week, I reported on an Instagram pop-up experience (one of several now open in Toronto) that lets customers take photos of themselves in a fake private jet for $20. Elsewhere in the world, people literally die with some regularity while trying to make themselves look cool online.
Love it or hate it, this is the world we live in: You can make fun of it on the internet, like me, or seize the golden opportunity to earn dollars while delighting some of the nearly 50 million visitors who check out our city each year.Hundreds of Toronto residents are already active hosts on Airbnb Experiences: A platform that lets (thoroughly-vetted) locals in any city sell unique activity packages to tourists.
From mixology lessons and neighbourhood food crawls to paddle boarding the shores of Lake Ontario while talking about AI, there's something for everyone. You can even bottle feed baby goats in some cities through Airbnb, which I will most definitely do should I ever find myself in North Carolina.
The most popular type of experience across the board is of the "tour" variety. Bike tours are big. So are food tours and beer tours. Biggest of all, however, is the walking photoshoot tour — at least 18 of which can be booked in Toronto right now through Airbnb.
Locals and tourists alike can book photoshoot tours — which are not to be confused with regular photo tours, where it's you behind the lens — with a location, date or specific interest in mind.
For $90, you can get your pics taken around the Yonge and Eglinton area for two hours. For $150, you'll get an hour (and 10 high-res images) with Amir in Chinatown.
Miona will take pictures of you for $75 inside Ripley's Aquarium (but you'll need to buy your own ticket first) and Catherine specializes in every young tourist's favourite selfie spot, Graffiti Alley.
"I will take photos for you to elevate your Instagram, blog or other social media accounts," reads the description of a $50, one-hour tour from a local photographer named Bruno. "This experience is perfect for couples and single travelers. Turn back home with the best holiday pictures."
"First time doing a photoshoot? You are not the only one!" reads another. "I will show you how to be comfortable in front of the camera, and help find your natural poses to capture the best of you."
Most, but not all, of the tour facilitators listed in this category on Airbnb professional photographers by day, making their services quite reasonable in price, especially when factoring in the "tour" part of the experience.
Still, who would think to book a local photographer as a tour guide/personal paparazzo while on vacation? I mean, prior to the existence of this trend on Airbnb, that wasn't really a thing for normal non-famous humans.
Now that it is, the practice is growing in popularity. A total of 111 people have reviewed this $85 Toronto Photo Shoot Experience by Edward alone.
Multiply $85 by 111 (and, keep in mind, that's only the number of people who have left reviews — many more have likely taken the tour) and that's a pretty sweet side hustle.
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